The most well-organized companies keep track of all the documents they've sent to customers in their document management system. It's very useful to be able to retrieve every document about a customer or a project. But the work of storing these documents can itself often take up quite a bit of time for staff. Each report must be saved in the document management system as well as simply being sent by email to the customer.
That's not the case in OpenERP. To automatically make OpenERP reports available in the FTP server, OpenERP automatically uses virtual files. You can put virtual files into directories that have the special type of linked resource and link the virtual files to OpenERP's reports.
Virtual files don't actually exist in OpenERP but are made visible with a size of 0 in the FTP server. Once these files have been read by the client software, OpenERP prints the document related to this file and returns a PDF document linked to the resource.
When you copy or open a virtual file you print the selected resource. You don't then have to go and print a document through OpenERP – you just open the file containing that document in the document management system. The PDF file is then created in real time by OpenERP by reading the relevant data.
The screen OpenERP中的销售订单的虚拟文件 shows the parameters of the virtual files in Orders. You define the virtual files using the name ORDERNUM_print.pdf, where ORDERNUM represents the reference to the order. To do this you must complete the section Descriptive Contents of the file for a directory. You can then find a virtual file for each report associated with an order.
To see the effect of this configuration, connect to the FTP server and go into a directory for an order such as Main Repository ‣ Sales Orders ‣ All Sales Orders ‣ SO003. You can then just double-click the file SO003_print.pdf to get a printout of Order SO003. You can attach it to an email or put it on your desktop.
This system of virtual files is very useful in a lot of situations. For example if you must quickly re-send a quotation to a customer you don't have to open OpenERP, you can just attach the relevant virtual file to your email.
Importantly, once files have been read or copied they become real files, taking up real space, rather than just virtual. This means that you can keep a legal record of all documents that have been created and sent to customers and suppliers.